We have seen a whole host of actresses give some terrific performances during 2015 - it really has been a great year for women in front of and behind the camera.

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

As the year is about to draw to a close, we look back at some of the actresses who have really delivered some standout performances over the last twelve months... there really were plenty to choose from. Which actresses work have been particularly enjoying this year?

- Alicia Vikander

I have been a fan of Alicia Vikander ever since I saw her star in A Royal Affair back in 2012 and 2015 has been a major breakthrough year for her with a string of hugely successful projects.

Not only have we seen her star in a whole host of films, but she has also shown her versatility as an actress with drama, sci-fi, and action as she has starred in the likes of Testament of Youth, Son of a Gun, Ex Machina, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Ex Machina has been her big film this year as she took on the role of Ava, an AI, in the feature film directorial debut of writer turned filmmaker Alex Garland. For me, Ex Machina is the best science fiction film that I have seen all year and Vikander is one of a trio of wonderful performances - Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson are also terrific.

Ava is a complex character who appears as one thing and yet has her own agenda and Vikander balances these two aspects perfectly. She is the star who really shines in this film as she orchestrates the fantastic twist towards the end. Just a terrific performance and film.

2016 looks set to be another busy year as Vikander is set to return in The Danish Girl, for which she has already picked up a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. She is hotly tipped to pick up the first Oscar nod of her career when the nominations are announced in January.

However, it is not all about The Danish Girl as Vikander has also completed work on Tulip Fever and The Light Between Oceans. She is currently filming the latest Bourne film and is one of the big new additions to an exciting cast list.

Ex Machina

- Julianne Moore

Of course, you cannot talk about outstanding actresses without looking back at the 2015 Oscar winner... which was Julianne Moore. She has had a long a hugely successful career but had never got her hands on the Best Actress prize until she took on the lead role in Still Alice.

Still Alice is a big screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Lisa Genova and sees Moore take on the role of Dr. Alice Howland, who is diagnosed with early-onset familial Alzheimer's disease.

Moore has been one of the best actresses of her generation for some time, but Still Alice is the movie and the role that really allows her to excel. This is a role that has allowed her to truly get under the skin of a character and deliver an emotionally devastating performance - seriously, her work in this film will utterly break your heart.

For me, Moore's performance is the heart and soul of this movie and is the real reason why this film works as well as it does. This is not a 'woe is me' dramatic and over the top performance, in fact, it is a very quiet turn from the actress. This is a movie that looks at the inner turmoil of a woman who has received the most devastating news - the character of Alice Howland is teetering on the verge of an emotional collapse, and Moore just depicts that struggle to stay in control and understand what is happening to her so beautifully.

She dominated the awards season and picked up Best Actress gongs at the Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. It was the fifth Oscar nomination of her career and her third for Best Actress.

Moore has also starred in Seventh Son and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. She will be back in the New Year with Freeheld alongside Ellen Page and Steve Carell.

Still Alice

- Cate Blanchett

It is always exciting when Cate Blanchett returns to the big screen and she has given some truly wonderful performances during her career. She teamed up with director Kenneth Branagh at the beginning of 2015, as she took on the role of the evil stepmother in a new interpretation of Cinderella.

It is not very often that we see Blanchett take on a villainous role and she really did excel and is terrific from start to finish. But it is her role in Carol that has been her most acclaimed performance of 2015.

Carol is a movie that just about everyone has fallen over to praise and is sees Blanchett take on the title role alongside Rooney Mara; this is the first time that the two actresses and worked together. The movie follows Carol and Therese, two women who embark on a love affair in the 1950s.

Blanchett delivers another tour de force performance in the central role - it is not hard to see why there is so much Oscar hype around her once more. She is captivating and her character truly absorbing as she is a woman who is trapped between two lives.

Blanchett has already picked up Best Actress Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and will be in the Oscar race when the nominations are announced - in fact, she is probably the current favourite to scoop the Oscar.

The actress will be back on the big screen in 2016 in Truth and an untitled Terrence Malick movie. She has also completed work on a Jungle Book: Origins, which will be released in 2017. Blanchett has also been linked to a role in Thor: Ragnarok - this would be the first time that we have seen her step into the Marvel Universe.


- Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan is one of the most exciting British actresses around and it has been another truly stellar year for her.

When Mulligan returned with Far From the Madding Crowd back in May, we hadn't seen her in a movie since the success of Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel and Ethan Coen. The movie was an adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel and saw Mulligan take on the role of heroine Bathsheba Everdene.

Mulligan gets under the skin of the central character and captures her conflicting traits of strength and vulnerability perfectly. She wants to be taken seriously after taking over her father's farm but loses her heart quickly to Sergeant Frank Troy - something that she comes to regret.

Far From the Madding Crowd was the first time that Mulligan had teamed up with director Thomas Vinterberg they have delivered a wonderful adaptation of a popular and much-loved book.

Mulligan led and all-star cast this autumn with Suffragette, which chronicled the early days of the suffragette movement. The movie was directed by Sarah Gavron, written by Sarah Gavron, and saw Mulligan take on the fictional role of Maud Watts, who joins the organisation and fights for change.

It is a powerful performance from Mulligan as we see that it is her difficult life that drives her to make a stand and battle to make things different for herself. This is a rousing and powerful film that is about the personal sacrifice many of this women endured as they fought for equality.

Suffragette may not have been the awards movie that everyone was expecting it to be, but it is a touching and relevant movie. It was great to see such great actresses brought together in one film and Gavron back in the director's chair.


Other actresses that have been whipping up a storm over the last twelve months include Emily Blunt, Jennifer Lawrence, Rooney Mara, and Kate Winslet.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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